In a departure from a long-time tradition where only the senior (15s) side carried the All Blacks name, the New Zealand Rugby Union today announced that both the Maori and Sevens sides will be afforded this honour.
A similar move in 2006 when the second-tier New Zealand A team was re-branded as the Junior All Blacks met with heavy criticism from the Kiwi rugby-community.
New Zealand Maori and the national men’s sevens team would be rebranded and known as the Maori All Blacks and All Blacks Sevens in future. The renaming also comes with a change in their logos on the jersey to also incorporate the All Blacks name.
NZ 7s skipper DJ Forbes pictured by Ross Giblin (Dominion Post)
“This change allows us to create more reasons for international companies to associate with the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby by convincing them that the brand has real global reach,” NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement.
“The All Blacks Sevens and Maori All Blacks can do that by flying the All Blacks flag virtually around the world throughout the year. They are both wonderful ambassadors for our game.”
“From Las Vegas to Dubai, the sevens team plays in more places, more often than the All Blacks,” Tew said. ”The next season extends from October to May and will be longer in coming years as more tournaments are added.
“As well, the Olympics provides a fantastic new opportunity on the biggest sporting stage in the world. There is no greater place to showcase to the world the All Blacks style of rugby.”